Are Workforce Analytics Taking the “Human” Out of Human Resources?

Three years ago, we wrote a blog focused around a segment by John Oliver on “Last Week Tonight” surrounding the inaccuracy of background checks and the impact this can have on your business and workforce. This past Sunday, John Oliver took another dive into the working world, this time around automation and the fear that improvements in technology might lead to replacing humans with machines. This topic has been of growing concern for professionals in a variety of functional roles, and HR is no exception.

In light of the impact that movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp have had on the business world, more and more companies are looking to AI to help tackle increasingly important issues around corporate culture. However, as AI moves into the conversation, many HR professionals have raised concerns. In addition to the potential for AI to create bias and discrimination, many HR professionals are wondering: will new technologies officially replace the HR function?

The short answer is no. If the recent bots created by Microsoft and Amazon are any indication, few technologies can effectively replace the “human touch.” Despite the fact that the bots created by these companies had breakthrough automation capabilities, they also ended up reinforcing bias and discrimination and undermining corporate culture.

Thus, it’s a generalization to say that AI is going to replace the HR function. Instead, the future of HR will involve a number of AI-based solutions, which means a better way to think about HR technology is to consider how businesses can use AI to enhance HR’s efficacy. Here are just a few ways that large businesses are already leveraging workforce analytics and automation.

3 Ways Workforce Analytics Are Improving HR

1) Knowing More About Who You Hire

Increasingly, HR departments are finding that things like GPAs and references are relatively weak indicators of performance and turning to AI-based solutions to paint a more accurate and detailed picture of a person’s personality and background. From identifying traits that can predict high performance to identifying a person’s affiliations with a particular cause, AI-based implementations can offer insights that can help HR recruit and retain top hires by focusing more fully on all the traits that someone brings into the workplace.

2) Removing Personal Bias

There are consequences to a hiring process that relies on human subjectivity. When you leave a hiring manager to determine fit, you increase the likelihood that the hiring manager’s biases enter the process and leave the door open for discrimination. As a result, more and more companies are turning to AI to reduce bias and discrimination in the recruiting and workforce management process. By using AI technology to systematically remove protected classes of information, HR teams can help can ensure they apply a fair and unbiased approach across all of their processes.

3) Preventing Workplace Discrimination

Discrimination can appear well beyond the recruiting process. As the costs of workplace harassment and discrimination become more pronounced each year, technologies that specialize in identifying high-risk workplace behaviors such as bigotry, sexism, and insider threats are on the rise. By identifying destructive behaviors before they create a problem for the organization or brand, having solutions that identify bias and discrimination in the workplace itself can ensure that a culture of high performance is sustained over time.

While many will be resistant to the future of HR, those who adapt will be the trendsetters who create the next generation of successful enterprises. Technology is built to make our lives easier, but the ultimate goal is never to replace humans. Good technology is built to help you reach the top of your field and ultimately perform your job more effectively and efficiently.